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Family roots

Our Christmas was loud and noisy as it always is when we all get together as a family. This year was no exception. We are an animated group of unique individuals who love each other and who love being together. This year we all congregated at my parents home, Mate and Danica Sevelj.

My parents are two amazing human beings. They set off over fifty years ago for the unknown. They left behind family and the security of their homeland of Tucepi, Croatia. They arrived here in New Zealand with a suitcase. They arrived independently of each other because of various circumstances. Life was so different then. They were brave. They took a risk. They were determined and motivated to create something better for themselves and the family they hoped to have. They have worked very hard to realise their dreams.

Over time my parents created three daughters – my sisters and myself. I am the oldest. Then there is my sister Diana (2 years younger than me), and my sister Valentina (9 years younger than me).

Mate and Danica Sevelj and their three daughters: Marica, Diana and Valentina.

My sisters and I have managed to produce 12 children between us. Diana and her husband Miro (of St Jerome wine fame – yes, we have a winemaker in the family!) are responsible for producing half of these children.

So two people has now become a total of 20! Our family tree is well and truly established. The roots are solid and the branches are growing and developing. We decided that opportunities for us to all get together were becoming rare so we decided to capture this experience photographically.

The Sevelj Family on Boxing Day 2005

The photos I am sharing here were taken today by Neil Mackenzie. He is a professional photographer who makes experiences like photographing a group of 20 people of a variety of ages fun. It was a beautiful Wellington day. We were down at Princess Bay. The entrance to Wellington Harbour is to the left of the photo above, and the expanse of water behind us is known as Cook Strait. The photos Neil produces always stun me.

The photo I really want to share with you is the one of my own family. We are a relatively newly created family, or as my husband Lynsey described us – we are a grafted family.

The Sevelj, Gedye and Miliszewski family.

My family roots are strongly connected with the sea and it is fitting that these photos are by the sea. I have always loved water, especially the sea. It has calmed me in times of extreme stress and I always find myself drawn to it. I look at this photo and think of how well we have done. We work together well as a family unit. We are constantly faced with challenges and yet somehow we manage to work through them by supporting, encouraging, and loving one another. We celebrate each other’s successes and console each other when disappointed. We work as a team even though distance or circumstances may separate us.

I learnt so many things from my parents about loving and living. I have endeavoured to pass on what I have learnt to my children and to others that cross my path by being me. This is not always easy just as the road my parents have travelled has not been an easy one.

I have come to realise that I may not be finanacially well off but I am rich beyond compare because I love and I am loved. I wish this for all of you as well.

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